CNN has announced that its HLN network will be helmed by television executive Albie Hecht starting September 30. Hecht is a long-time TV executive that has headed up several other channels, but he is also a big donor to the Democratic Party.
On September 18, CNN announced that the former president of Nickelodeon Entertainment and the man who founded Spike TV will take over as the Executive Vice President and GM of HLN.
In the statement, CNN chief Jeff Zucker said, "Albie is one of the most creative executives in our industry."
"I wanted someone who could build off the strength that currently exists at HLN, which is enjoying one of its highest rated years ever, and evolve the network and its fast-growing digital properties even more," Zucker said.
And for all his TV experience, Hecht is experienced in another area—donating to Democrats.
Politico's Dylan Byers reported that Hecht has "given $35,550 in personal contributions over the past 15 years and an additional $11,000 in joint fundraising."
Those who have benefitted from Hecht's donations include: The Democratic National Committee ($14,200); the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($10,000); MoveOn.org PAC ($5,000); Barack Obama ($4,550); New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand ($3,500); and--in March of this year--Newark, N.J., Mayor and Senate hopeful Cory Booker ($1,000).
As to future donations, CNN did tell Byers that as the new head of HLN, Hecht is required to stop donating money to political candidates and causes.
Just as they did with the sequester, Democrats will try to blame Republicans for a potential government shutdown or cuts to the budget that may occur as part of a new debt deal this fall.
Politico reported that, "President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies are eager to tag the GOP as the root cause of Washington dysfunction." Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Executive Director Kelly Ward told the publication that Democrats are planning to highlight “the inability of Republicans to actually govern" and make that into a central "narrative" going into the 2014 midterm elections.
Even though the sequester idea originated in the White House, as Bob Woodward documented, Obama and Democrats tried to blame Republicans for the calamity that it would cause. Those tactics largely backfired, as a majority of Americans favored the across-the-board budget cuts.
Yet House Republicans and their advisers still remain fearful of Democrats and their tactics that have just recently failed, believing that a government shutdown over de-funding Obamacare or budget cuts would lose Republicans the House.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, said, “If you ask me what is the one thing that could reshuffle the deck on an otherwise stable mid-term environment in 2014, the answer is a government shutdown." Brock McCleary, a GOP pollster and former NRCC deputy executive director, agreed, saying the "only way Republicans will lose the House is to shut down the government or default on the debt.”
The current continuing resolution to fund the government expires on Sept. 30, and the nation is set to hit its borrowing limit shortly after. Republicans have a 17-seat majority in the House and only four Republicans represent Districts that lean Democratic, which means Republicans will be more vulnerable from the right. Republican voters in most Republican House Districts want them to be more fiscally conservative and de-fund Obamacare.
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) said his voters would “rather see Republicans veer more to the right” on fiscal matters, and Chris Chocola, the president of the Club for Growth, said, "the greatest risk for Republicans is for them to continue to disappoint their supporters. I don’t think they’ve inspired them or given them a reason to support them in quite a while."
“At some point, they have to communicate to people there is a difference between Republicans and Democrats," he told the publication.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is revving up an effort to regain credibility among conservatives after his popularity took a nosedive over his stance on immigration reform, The Hill reports. Senate Republicans are aiding Rubio’s rehabilitation by allowing him to be the lead sponsor of a Senate bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The House has already passed a similar bill that allows abortions after 20 weeks only in cases where the mother’s life was in jeopardy or if the mother had been impregnated through rape or incest.
Rubio’s announcement of his sponsorship is scheduled for the return of the Senate after the July 4 recess. But since the Democrats control the Senate, and abortion is the leading sacrament of the Democratic Party, the bill is unlikely to pass.
Typical Democratic sentiment over abortion was voiced by Emily Bittner, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, after the House passed its version of the bill:
Jobs took a backseat today so that House Republicans could exert their radical ideology and roll back women’s rights to the Stone Age. America is tired of watching this Republican Congress wage the same ideological battles they’ve been fighting for years, instead of trying to strengthen our economy or solve our problems. It is clear that this Republican Congress wants partisanship, not progress.
Battle lines over a similar bill have been drawn in Texas, with Governor Rick Perry leading the charge against pro-abortion forces. Eleven states already have restrictions on abortions after 20 weeks.
The Hill is reporting that Democrats in DC are "shifting" from Obama over to Hillary Clinton as 2016 approaches. "Hillary Clinton has already racked up a couple of endorsements for the 2016 presidential race — and she hasn’t even announced she’s running yet. Requests are flooding in for the former secretary of State to campaign for candidates."
Obama's "star power" could fade as focus turns to 2016. His approval rating has been dropping with various controversies surrounding his administration like IRS, Benghazi, and NSA domestic spying.
Former PA Governor Ed Rendell (D) described "The political focus of the Democratic Party will shift to Hillary, and in some ways it has already."
Hillary's camp maintain they are loyal to Obama, "all the Clinton allies The Hill spoke to repeatedly emphasized her loyalty to Obama, pointing out that she needs some rest after her busy tenure as secretary of State. They stressed that she hasn’t made up her mind about 2016."
With Hillary's new twitter account and upcoming memoir, it seems obvious the former Secretary of State is keeping in the public eye. Already endorsements have come out of the woodwork, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) endorsed Clinton on Tuesday along with Sen. Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY).
Steve Israel (D-NY) who is chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said that members are interested in having Clinton involved in 2014 midterms. "It’s almost universal. Members would like her to drop by for a visit or two."
In addition to targeting conservative and Tea Party groups, in 2011 the IRS also targeted conservative donors to a group created in 2007 to generate support for President George W. Bush's Iraq surge. The IRS reportedly began the audit after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent a complaint letter.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, in 2011 the IRS audited at least five donors to Freedom's Watch: "Former officials of Freedom’s Watch say they believe all five of the IRS audits involved donors to their group, based on conversations with IRS agents and donors at the time of the audits in 2011."
The gift-tax probe became public in 2011, but the name of the group was concealed at the time.
The Journal notes that though Freedom's Watch's audit was conducted by Lois Lerner's tax-exemptions unit, the "gift-tax audits were conducted by workers in the estate and gift-tax unit," which is "housed in a separate division" of the IRS.
Steven Miller, the recently ousted acting Commissioner of the IRS, implied to Republican lawmakers in 2011 that "the exempt-organizations unit referred the matter to the estate-and-gift tax unit."
According to the Journal, Miller "said the gift tax unit didn’t have access to the names of donors to 501(c)(4) groups. Instead, those names are directly available only to Ms. Lerner’s unit."
Groups such as Freedom's Watch, which is now defunct, do not have to disclose the identity of their donors and, according to the Journal, "are organized under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code," which means they are "allowed to engage in some political-campaign activity."
In February 2010, "Freedom’s Watch was subjected to an IRS audit that focused largely on its political activities." A year later, according to Freedom's Watch's lawyers, "as many as five donors to Freedom’s Watch were subjected to IRS audits of their contributions that sought to impose gift taxes on their donations to the group."
Tax experts told the Journal this effort was "highly unusual" because "the IRS generally hadn’t sought to impose the gift tax on donations to tax-exempt groups such as Freedom’s Watch in at least 20 years"--and perhaps longer.
A lawyer who heads the election-law practice at Covington and Burling told the WSJ the IRS's action was "kind of like a nuclear bomb going off" that "disrupted that long-standing understanding among election lawyers that this was an area where the IRS wasn’t likely to go.”
After the revelations of the IRS's targeting of conservative groups came to light, many potential donors to conservative and Tea Party groups said even though they wanted to donate to Tea Party and conservative groups, they did not do so because they were afraid the IRS would find out their identities.
According to The Hill, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is circulating an email with a link to a petition "urging supporters to back legislation to remove sexual assault cases from the military chain of command."
The email was sent on May 18, seeking backers for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-NY) efforts to take sexual assault "and other felony-level cases" away from the military.
Here's part of the message the email carried to those who received it: "Democrats in Congress are taking a stand to better protect our service men and women--but they need our support to ensure that independent prosecutors are deciding whether to prosecute sexual assault crimes."
The email contains a link to the petition on Senator Barbara Boxer's (D-CA) website.
The petition is also backed by Republican Susan Collins of Maine.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama will dine with top Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD).
According to the Hill, other attendees will include:
Reps. James Clyburn (SC), the assistant Democratic leader; Xavier Becerra (CA), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus; Joseph Crowley (NY); vice chairman of the Caucus; Chris Van Hollen (MD), senior Democrat on the Budget Committee; Rosa DeLauro (CT) and Rob Andrews (NJ), the co-chairmen of the Democrat's Steering and Policy Committee; Steve Israel (NY), head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; and Mike Thompson (CA), who chairs the Democrats' task force to prevent gun violence.
The White House said the dinner will be held at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington.
Obama will have dinner with these top Democrats the night after Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch lost a special election in South Carolina's first Congressional district to Republican Mark Sanford.
President Barack Obama attended two fundraisers on Wednesday on San Francisco's "Billionaires' Row" and said it would be a "whole lot easier" to govern if House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) became House Speaker after 2014.
Obama even said he expected Pelosi "is going to be once again the Speaker of the House."
The President attended fundraisers for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) at the homes of Tom Steyer, who is pushing Obama to more aggressively back "climate change" bills, and Ann and Gordon Getty.
Democrats need to win 17 seats to take back the House in 2014, and Obama is prioritizing that goal, since the Republican-controlled House remains his primary legislative obstacle. While Democrats accomplished little while they held control of the House and a Senate supermajority from 2009-2010, the President may pursue a more aggressive legislative agenda with control of both houses now that he does not have to face his own reelection in 2016.
“My intention here is to try to get as much done with the Republican Party over the next two years as I can, because we can’t have perpetual campaigns,” Obama said, according to The Hill. "But I would be dishonest if I didn’t say that it would be a whole lot easier to govern if I had Nancy Pelosi as Speaker."
Obama said he just wanted to "get stuff done" when it came to bills dealing with immigration and climate change.According to The Hill, tickets cost between $5,000 and $32,400 for both of Wednesday's Pacific Heights fundraisers. Obama will hold two events on Thursday in Atherton, California. At one event, 30 people will pay $32,400 each to have brunch with Obama. At the second event, attendees will pay between $1,000 and $20,000 to meet Obama.
RNC Chair Reince Priebus accused Obama of hypocrisy.
“On the campaign trail Obama’s favorite applause line was attacking the very people he’s now begging for campaign cash,” Priebus said. “Hypocrisy at its finest. Barack Obama has his priorities completely backward — prioritizing billionaires over the taxpayers who demand and deserve a budget and canceling White House tours while he spends $180,000 an hour flying Air Force One to fundraise on Billionaires Row.”
President Barack Obama does not have to run for re-election anymore, but his permanent campaign continues, as Obama will attend fundraisers in San Francisco and Silicon Valley this week to help Democrats take back Congress in 2014.
According to the White House, Obama "will attend two fundraisers for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee" on Wednesday in San Francisco, CA. Those fundraisers will be held on "Billionaires Row," reportedly at the homes of Gordon Getty and green energy advocate Tom Steyer.
On Thursday, Obama will fundraise for the Democratic National Committee, which is nearly broke, in Atherton, California at two private residences. Atherton is one of the wealthiest areas in Northern California, situated not too far from Stanford University.
As White House Dossier notes, Obama seems intent on trying to take back the House for Democrats in 2014 so he can have two years to ram through every piece of liberal legislation he wants without himself having to face consequences for policies Americans do not like at the ballot box.
Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is trying to stir up confidence among House Democrats for 2014, claiming that they are in better shape than they have been for years. Israel released a three-page memo delineating different reasons for his confidence. Among them are:
- Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign is still in place
- While Obama concentrated all the finances he could raise on his own reelection, leaving congressman twisting in the wind, he has promised to hold 14 fundraisers for House and Senate Democrats now.
- The DCC has $5 million less debt than in 2012.
- The super PAC called House Majority PAC, which didn’t exist in 2010, geared up in 2012, spending $40 million, and is ready for 2014.
- Israel thinks that the Democrats that the GOP has targeted for defeat are invincible. These include Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Nick Rahall (W.Va.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.) and Ron Barber (Ariz.) Israel stated that most of those targets survived the massive GOP victory in 2010 and were reelected in the presidential election year of 2012, when "the top-of-the-ticket lost their districts by double digits."
- The redistricting of the House that favored the GOP made districts more red, which will make the GOP candidates hew to the right in order to win their primaries, which will hurt them in the general election.
- Democrats will win on the issues; a February Public Policy Polling said congressional approval languished at 9% and a Gallup poll said Democrats are ahead in name identification; Israel bloviated that "approval of this Tea Party Republican Congress continues to plummet."
But National Republican Committee Chairman Liesl Hickey was not disturbed. She said,
"As a result of redistricting, which favored Republicans, and this well-executed [offensive] strategy — the House is well-aligned and firmly in GOP control. The national map of competitive House races looks very different headed into 2014. Namely, it’s smaller and Republicans have the upper hand."